Friday, 5 August 2011

Story: A mystery of three

I wrote this story a good few years ago now. I've been meaning to put it up for a while now, and only now just got the wherewithall to do so.

A mystery of three

By Andras Zoltan



"Christ", thought Andras, as he sifted through the thousands of papers on the desk "Somewhere here are the words that'll elevate me to the next level, I need to find them, bring them together to make a collage of feelings and ideas; a catastrophe of logic and reason. But where do I start?"

The bits of paper all had dark, angular scrawls all over them. On not one of them did any discernable sentence appear. Instead they seemed to have been leaked onto the paper both in the act of writing them as well as dreaming them up, as though a product of a deep trance. As soon as they caught his gaze, the words seemed to fly at him, each one's impact growing from the last; their chaos seeping into his mind as it tried to make sense of what he was seeing.

He stared at one of the pages for a few seconds, his eyes glistening with intense concentration on the babble - using each word like a pin on a map; it was impossible to remember each of the words he was seeing, he'd thought earlier, so instead he would give them entry to his unconscious, by simply being seen. This way, the word would be stored but in a way such that only its trace remained; its meaning blurred by the randomness of the words before and after, a shadow, threatening to resurface at any time.

All at once, with one of the pages in his hands, he got to his feet and started to shout the words; his voice would carry them to the heavens, their influence would be felt everywhere and by everyone. The reverberation of his voice seemed to magnify their impact on his mind, with each one a small change occurred inside him. Now he could feel them. Now he could take the power of these words and bring it together, focus it, use it. With a new purpose he started pacing, tossing the page aside and picking up a new one, he began once again to wreak language's havoc upon the world through his voice: "Elevation!!!" he cried, the room responding with a breath to acknowledge the signal being received. "Liiiiiiiightning!!!!!!!", the images of huge sparks of white appearing around him; inside his head crashes of thunder echoed, reminding him of all the times he'd seen the sky turn into an electric playing field, smelled the sweet odour of clean air after a rainstorm and been petrified by the rumbling voice of the sky as a child. He paused, almost willing for there to be a crash of thunder in the distance, knowing that such an event would petrify him for a most different reason.

Continuing on, he felt certain that right here, right now, something was happening to him, it must be embraced and encouraged. "These words have finally given one of their secrets up to me, it's now only time that decides when they come together, and me that decides exactly how they come together" he said to himself as he prepared for the next incantation. It left his mouth in all directions like a bullet from a gun, bending the walls and shaking the windows, the room wasn't built for would-be opera singers.

"HAAAUUUUNNNNTTTTT!!!!"

A door crashed far off down the corridor. Andras froze, the petrified feeling that he half-expected just before now visited upon him tenfold as a million nasty thoughts went through his mind as to what caused that noise?

Footsteps could be heard, approaching the other side of the door from the unknown; the being's appearance changing constantly inside Andras' mind as it advanced, his fear and anxiety increasing with each new form. He wondered if another echo from the depths of madness would cause the footsteps to go away, could a word be found to release him from this terrible nightmare? Is this the power of the words manifesting itself? In a last ditch effort he reached for the nearest page in his grasp, as he maneuvered it into view for him to incur it's wrath upon the demon outside, he filled his lungs with air and readied his body. His eyes scanned the letters, the syllables slotted into the empty spaces of his mind, all the strength inside him disappeared: "defeat?" he murmured, "but by what?"

The footsteps stopped, the doorknob started turning slowly, scraping its way round to let the evil on the other side in. Suddenly the catch clicked free and as the door opened a hooded figure entered the room; not the six-legged hairy demon or chainsaw maniac he was expecting, but a figure he recognised. It was him.

"Hello, Andras", the other Andras said to him.

"Well, right about the last thing I expected to happen was for another me to appear", he said in a tone of disbelief.  He dropped the page and stood motionless, staring at the image before him. With the hood still up, the face seemed far more angular and foreboding than he imagined his own face to be; and his eyes, they seemed to see straight through him - a gaze like that of a heroin addict.


I stood, purposefully intimidating, and stared at him; his body frozen by fear and flummoxed by my realisation, it was amusing to see a man who'd been saturating his brain with words temporarily lost for them.

"What did you expect to happen? A genie to appear? All the world's problems solved in one fell swoop? Come on, Andras! The only reason I am here is because you summoned me here, you need me for something, to make sense of something for you."

"That's ridiculous! In any case, it still doesn't explain how you can be standing in front of me.  And… and why the hell should you come here, now, when all around me is nothing but madness?" His thought patterns were clearly messed up, reeling from the barrage of the chaos of vocabulary he'd inflicted on them before.

"I should have thought that was self-explanatory." A wry smile appeared on the other Andras' face.  He started walking around the room, looking down at the floor, the desk and the pages strewn all over them. The glazed look disappeared from his eyes and he moved with a certain confidence and easiness, as if he knew everything around him as having once been home.

"Madness is not something I entertain, I was merely conducting an analytical approach to the problem I'm faced with; how that's led to your appearance I don't know. It seems strange to me that you've appeared in a guise that I would never consider, let alone hallucinate." The perplexed Andras straightened up, desperately trying to elude some sense of confidence in his situation.

"Don't talk rubbish, " the hooded man snapped straight back at him, "you felt something when those words charged out of you.  Release…  No, a satisfaction, at being able to create images with them, of old memories resurfacing and washing over you again. I could feel it in you. There may have been an element of the scientist in you, but you're not going to convince me you didn't start to let go juuuussst a little." Very briefly a friendliness appeared in his manner, he knew more about me than I was willing to give up to anybody and he was taking pleasure in that. I watched him survey the pages once again; it was uncanny the way he seemed to observe them in order, but an order that was discernable to no other than himself.

Nothing about what I saw puzzled me.  I remembered the intense cascade of feelings that gave birth to them, the hate, the pleasure, the confusion, and how they had all combined to produce a string of impressions on the paper; hurried along as if there were already millions upon millions queuing up to do the same.  Nothing came out in order, a complete mish mash; and here was this fool trying to make sense of it all, though I was certainly not going to let him in on the secret just yet.  I didn't even know whether there was something to make sense of, although I guess if you look at anything long enough, you'll find something in there with meaning.  He was even trying to make sense of me, like he did of everything else that confronted him.

"What are you doing with all this stuff?" The second Andras muttered, turning once again to face the first one.

"I... errr, it's kinda difficult to explain, but somewhere here are the words that will release me, but I have no way of knowing which of the words I have to use or in what order.  Do I have to make a sentence? Read all the words in turn? Create a play? A poem... who knows?"  I considered the possibility that this explanation was unnecessary, that the other Andras already knew what I was doing, but the drive to justify my ridiculous behaviour was impossible to fight.

"So, your first urge is to read each of the words randomly and then start shouting them out like a madman!? Do you have any idea what could happen to you if somebody found out? They'd have you locked and drugged up fast, you'd only be able to remember the word 'Daadaa' by the time they'd finished with you!"

"I couldn't think of anything else, it seemed like the logical thing to do. In any case it wasn't really a decision but it, sort of, just happened.  I swear something inside me has been changed or switched on after doing that."

"Damn right, you’re standing here talking to me!  I think that constitutes a big change." he tapped his head through his hood thrice with his finger, making a deep hollow click with this tongue each time, insinuating insanity.  Then he started towards his opposite. "Y'know the universe is supposed to explode if we touch…"

"B-but you're not made of antimatter, if you were, then you wouldn’t be able to touch anything in the room" Andras' heart started racing, he could feel his mind starting to crack, things were not right about all this, he stepped back, not sure whether to take this imposing shadow, himself, seriously - a position he'd never expected to be in.

"Ah yes, that's true, but you could be. Maybe you're the imposter in this scene, the irregularity, the blip." he accentuated this last word with amazing precision, I felt condemned.

"Think about it: I am at home here, you are not; I am in acceptance of my situation, you are not. You clearly cannot make head nor tail of what you see before you..."

"And you're saying you can? There's nothing to make sense of here! The only person who can shed any light on all this is the mad bastard that vomited it all up, and he's disappeared from existence! There's no trace of him, except what's here."

"So take a step back from the situation for the moment, isn't that what you're supposed to do? Who do you think that mystical person could be?"

I stared at him, and he at me, throughout a moment of eerie silence, as if time had stopped everywhere in the universe just to allow me to catch up with my situation. I knew the answer, I just didn't want to say it.

"You've got it, it's me. What you see in front of you is me, embodied in every word. I can't remember how long it took or why each of the words appeared, but it was me that brought them into existence."

"You can't have written all this stuff, it's impossible... Why would you create a roomful of paper covered in random words? Why would I be placed here to sift through it all? How can a hallucination have his own private storeroom of crap? It doesn't make sense!"

"You're here for your own reasons now, as I was when I wrote all this. If you feel that you're job is to make sense of what you see before you then go ahead and try. Just bear in mind that it was not sense and order that produced it, but chaos. In a way, there is a lot of you here, too, it's just that you've not realised it yet."

"How can that be? I am not you, " another portion of Andras' consciousness started to crack, "I could not have produced any of what lies here, it's alien to me. You're alien to me. It is I that must find the combination that will release me, but it is you that produced it." Why would I put myself in such a predicament anyway? he asked himself, seating himself at the table and putting his hands on his head. Nothing could explain what was going on, not even the all-knowing, all-seeing phantasm before him. The more he thought about it, there was no reason for his drive to search through the randomness that surrounded him, it was just automatic - something that had to be done.

"We are not the same person. Christ, if that were true then the universe would explode if we touched, but we are of the same essence. It must be obvious to you that we share something in common. I mean, come on! Hasn't my appearance demonstrated something to you? Doesn't my very appearance demonstrate something to you? Has it ever occured to you that the name Andras can represent two different identities, both intertwined with the same purpose?"

"But what purpose? What is about you and me that is the same? What is it that holds the key to my release from this ever-increasing nightmare? You seem to be here only to confuse things to a greater degree, to encourage that which already lives in this room." I could not function, the sanity ebbing away from me. There I was, seated at a table covered with anonymous, yet supposedly familiar, oozed-out feelings and thoughts; I felt like screaming but could select no words to describe what was inside. The hooded-me produced an empty page from his coat and drew his finger across it's surface, on it the word bled, like a punchline delivered by a mute.

Disbelief, followed by intense curiosity, appeared on Andras' face as my finger worked it's way up and down the page. I could sense him desperately trying to figure out whether or not what had appeared before him referred to him or to me. The drive for me to manufacture it was undefeatable, and there was no conscious thought given to it's inception, yet still there were ways of relating it back to our situation that he would no doubt find. Once finished I stood staring at it, held out for us both to see. It needed to be felt, even if it wasn't real.

Everything settled in the room for a moment, the two Andrasses transfixed in time as the word joined the others; making the room more complete.

"Defeat?" I asked him, dumbfounded at it's appearance yet again. He didn't reply, just stared back at me. "Am I defeated? Am I going to fail in my task to fathom your craziness? Or am I defeating you right now?" Nothing, no clue signalled by his gaze. The exasperation inside me was becoming unbearable, I felt I was being withheld something, a secret that I should know if was to continue on my travels.

"Of course you're going to fail in your task to fathom these words," he started abruptly, snapping out of his trance. He started pacing around the floor, bending slowly to let the page from his grasp. "You're going to fail in trying to make sense of me, these words, this room and anything else you turn your head to. You need me to understand this, I have to be here for anything to make sense."

I was being preached to and I knew it, dissected and repaired by this other me. I knew nothing about him, yet he knew me; perhaps he really is a figment of my imagination, I thought. If he is, he's an annoyingly mysterious one. "Without me being here you will never find the release you search for, your constantly trying to find a pattern or a solution to everything will not help you."

It was like listening to a record impressed with the ramblings of an insane sage, the words buzzing through the air in search of a listener. Still, what he said made sense. All my efforts to make sense of the situation had failed and my coup de gra├že had resulted in the scaring of my life. Even now, as we talked, I was still uneasily wary of him.

"So, if you're purpose is the same as mine, and my purpose is to find the words that can release me, then..." no chance of finishing the sentence, as the hood rushed forward to interject.
"Is your purpose to find words? What makes you so sure of that? Have you been given any instructions as to what to do in your time here? You've assumed a role from the moment you got here, much in the same way that I have."

"I don't know any different to what I started doing back there."

"Just as I don't know any different to what I'm doing now."

"But, even though I feel driven to, you say my purpose here is not to find order?"

"Perhaps it's to create the madness, the chaos, much like you think mine is? How do you think all the other pieces of paper have got here?"

A bomb dropped somewhere in the distance, splintering everything within range into tiny pieces.

"This... means... that you are here purely because I am; there's something inside of me that needs to get out and you're the key to it's... it's release." The walls began to pulsate, mimicking the blood pumping through my veins as the realisation hit me. I released my head from my hands' grasp and looked, once again, at my double.

"Not just me, but the pages, too. The products of our previous visits here, and memories that have built up over the years; I haven't dreamed all of these words up on my own, y'know, just a lot of them. You're not likely to remember anything about that, though." The lack of seriousness in his voice hid the scale of what he was saying. I was standing in my (or should it be "our"?) own private storeroom of memories and ideas, represented by words on bits of paper, to be sifted through and added to at will and I didn't recognise any of it. What a ridiculous place to get stuck in with another me, I thought.

"I don't want to create chaos, though, I have no desire to eek out any more madness than the cornucopia that already adorns this room. So why am I here?".

"You think this is a one-way relationship? I may be the voice of your meanderings but I have a voice that needs to be heard too. To do this, I need a catalyst: You." He hoisted himself onto the table and sat hunched forward, staring sombrely at the opposite wall, upon which a page hung with the word "fountain" clearly etched into it; the hood chuckled shortly and turned to Andras. "It's just that, without you, my voice can emit nothing but total chaos, nothing worth saying. You inject the order into it through your presence and interaction with me."

"But you seem to able to speak properly, I mean, there's no chaos in what you're saying to me right now."

"That's as maybe, but consider what I'm like when I'm on my own. All this stuff bouncing around and nobody to express it to; I am limited just to this." His hand swooped around the room, indicating the pages. "This place is horrible on your own, let me tell you, the words around you choke the mind and confuse the soul - concentrating on them is a sure way of going mad, the only way to fit in is to continue to add more, expand the zoo as it were. With you here, though, the room and its contents are given a context, a place in time, the words and any subsequent additions take on a whole new meaning."

"But where is the product of our interaction? From what you're telling me, us coming together is supposed to lead to something being created, I see nothing; apart from the random words you continue to write as normal."

"The product is not for you, or I, to see. Only to create."

As he said this he drew another page from his coat and began writing, again with his finger. He could not explain what was drawing the energy out of him, the lines appearing as if they were already there but needed his touch to make them visible. The other Andras stood up to see what was being written this time. What word would come of this? What was inside the hood that required everything to stand still in order for it to appear?

Silence.

It was broken, "Of all the words...", Andras started, and before he could finish he was no longer there - any trace of his being purged from the room.

"Of all the words, indeed." The other Andras said, and disappeared into the air to be become nothing but a whisper…

The page sank to find its place on top of all the others. For a moment it glowed there, in the middle of the floor, its scrawled companion shouting its presence to all the others:

"Release".